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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Labor Organizing In Texas, 1848 To The Present
Program #

Alma Díaz
Devon Peña, Victor Nelson Cisneros
Feb 25, 1981

Labor Organizing in Texas, 1848 to the present

Guests Victor Nelson Cisneros and Devon Peña discuss the history of Chicano labor organizing in industrial, manufacturing and agriculture sectors and some of their successes and failures. Cisneros, a researcher with the National Rural Center, explains how in the aftermath of the Mexican American War, Mexicans in the United States lost their land and became proleterianized in a slow process of adaptation and restructuring. Historians have simplified this process and ignored early Chicano organizing efforts. Pena, an instructor at UT-Austin, discusses some of this history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He mentions several unions and their struggles throughout the Southwest. Cardenas then describes some of the unions’ demands. He also looks at the situation many faced in the early 1900s during the rise of industrial capital, trusts and scientific management.

Pena then looks at women’s participation in Chicano unions. He describes the migrant circuits families traveled and the industries in which women worked and organized. Pena next examines some of the barriers to Chicano organizing, including repression and discrimination. He also explains that many women workers became more radical than the union leaders who often tacitly condoned gender discrimination.

Both Nelson Cisneros and Pena discuss the need for scholars to document present labor struggles in order to create an engaged scholarship.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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